Two Sides to Every Story
Beck & Robin Feiner
ABC Books, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Oscar has a special way of looking at things. He takes his subject, twists it this way and that, tumbles it all around, upside down and inside out, exploring it every which way until he came to a decision. Whether it was a big issue like preferring to live in the city or the country or a simple one like a fried or boiled egg for breakfast, he had to weigh up all the angles. And while this might be a little annoying to those around him as they waited for his choice, it is a different matter when it comes to the finals of the Aussie Schools Public Speaking competition…
This quirky storybook could be described as the teacher librarian’s dream…
The Critical and Creative Thinking strand of the Australian Curriculum requires students to ” generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems” and that is exactly what Oscar does so here is the perfect introduction to getting students to understand not only why they need to interpret and evaluate information and situations but also how. They can be given all sorts of simple, familiar situations to twist and turn as they look for the arguments for and against, determine fact from opinion, identify authority and purpose, objectivity and bias, relevance and currency, gather evidence and build justifications and all the other aspects that can lead them to making an informed decision. And , at the same time, they are learning empathy and compassion, perspective and perception as they are required to put themselves in the shoes of another person and view the issue through that lens.
Nearly 30 years ago, in the early days of the internet being available and accessible to students in schools, Tom March and Bernie Dodge developed webquests, a teaching strategy initially designed to embed the use of the World Wide Web into teaching and learning, but which, had at their heart, a problem that could have several solutions based on the perspective of those involved in solving it. Despite having faded in popularity as a teaching tool, they are still one of the most successful strategies I have used for encouraging students to develop critical thinking skills and this book is the perfect precursor to that.
A must-have in your TL toolkit.